The tenth edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup starts on 17th June with hosts Russia taking on the 2016 OFC Nations Cup winners New Zealand at the Krestovsky Stadium in St.Petersburg.
With all the FIFA Confederation Champions competing in addition to the reigning World Champions Germany and the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts Russia, the tourney promises to bring a great level of excitement during the European football offseason.
While the Confederations Cup has never really been considered a huge international honour in comparison to the FIFA World Cup, the Euros or the Copa America, top players have continuously graced the event to win international glory. This year’s Championships will see Germany start as huge favourites with only the European Champions Portugal seeming a viable threat.
Chile’s victorious 2015 Copa America campaign means that they qualify for the tournament at the expense of the two South American powerhouses Brazil and Argentina. AFC Cup Champions Australia, African Champions Cameroon and the CONCACAF Champions Mexico complete the 8-nation tournament.
With just about a week to go for the tournament to begin, we take a look at the five teams who have won this tournament in the past.
#5 Mexico – 1999
Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t at the 2002 World Cup where Ronaldinho first displayed his scintillating array of skills, but at the 1999 Confederations Cup held in Mexico. With six goals in the competition, ‘Ronnie’ would win the Golden Shoe as well as the Golden Ball – even though he couldn’t spearhead his country to the title.
That glory would go to Cuauhtemoc Blanco – the forward would also score six goals which led hosts Mexico to their only title triumph in intercontinental tournaments.
The founder of the Cuauhtemina or Blanco Trick – where Blanco traps the ball between his feet and jumps through multiple defenders – almost blew the roof off the 115,000 capacity Estadio Azteca as he scored four times in El Tri’s 5-1 opening match win over Saudi Arabia en route to topping their group and setting up a semi-final clash against arch rivals the United States who had sent Germany packing in the group stages.
This time, Blanco would score a 97th-minute golden goal to send the Yanks home and move into the final. Awaiting them would be blood thirsty Brazil who had thrashed Saudi Arabia 8-2 in the semi-finals with Ronaldinho scoring a hat-trick.
The final at the Azteca would be the greatest in the history of the tournament – Mexico, bolstered by the home support took a 2-0 lead under 30 minutes only to see the Brazilians bring the score to 2-2 in the 47th minute. Undeterred, Mexico would score two more goals – through Miguel Zepeda and Blanco - to open up a 4-2 lead before Ze Roberto struck back a minute after Mexico’s fourth goal to make it 4-3.
The remaining half an hour would see back and forth action, but Ronaldinho and co would not be able to break through the Mexican defence. Mexico would be the first host country to win the tournament.